What is Bhakti? It can be generally translated as devotion and Webster gives 'religious fervour' as its meaning. Does this mean that atheists cannot have devotion? How can explain this to different people from different walks of life? Most of all, how can we explain this to children who are influenced by what their parents think?
Theists - It is very easy to reach out to theists and say: devotion or bhakti is that belief that you have in God which directs certain actions (puja, prayers etc) in your everyday living.
Atheists - One has to leave out God equation and explain devotion in terms of concentration on activities close to one's heart.
Children - Now this is the tricky part. Children are always forever trying to assess what to take forward to their adult years. Some children don't want to believe in God because their parents don't believe and their acceptance is of utmost importance. Some children implicitly believe what their parents say. Yet others are skeptical and more inclined to go by what their teacher says.
I think bhakti should mean devotion to anything and everything. The passion with which we do our day to day work is bhakti. Cooking with bhakti gives a wonderful flavour to the food. Reading with bhakti gives a better understanding. Working with bhakti improves productivity. So why should bhakti or devotion have to be explained in religious terms?
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